Oral History; Science or Method

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


Science is considered as a systematic effort aimed at achieving analyzable and measurable results, and history as the science of reviewing the past events.

Now the question is whether oral history, which has a deep relationship with history, is a science or a research method under the science of history!

To get the answer, it is better to take a look at the background of oral history. Oral history is one of the new research achievements in history, which describes and identifies past events based on the views, hearings and actions of witnesses and related people.

It seems that this field, which was put on the agenda of researchers in the years after World War II, was based on the need for Western societies after important experiences in the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century that saw the popular historiography insufficient or ineffective to record some of them, and evaluated the transmission of many information and experiences to the next generations with disorder. Thus, they thought of a new idea that could bring a more complete picture to the field of historiography and in this way, oral history entered historical research with the help of the development of mass communication devices and audio and video recording technology, targeted interviews based on observations and information of individuals.

Thus, oral history interviews were, in the first step, a research method using interviews to collect statements and neglected points in written history, and it was recognized as a source along with other sources, and gradually with the expansion of the range of topics and the increase in the number of oral history activists, independent works of oral history opened its place among other historical sources.

Since then, oral history has received attention in the research circles of the world and has been recognized as a contemporary history research method in many centers.

"Oral history is a decisive method in increasing people's understanding of contemporary events and understanding the nature and meaning of time and the nature of the functions and structures of history."[1]

In fact, oral history is a type of qualitative research and has been spread in scientific and historical research circles with its interdisciplinary nature.

Oral history uses scientific methods to obtain information and does not limit itself to one discipline and is not a sub-discipline of history, such as political, economic or social history.

In other words, oral history is a multi-faceted and advanced combination that has been able to be used by ordinary people and researchers due to the scope of work, while providing primary scientific resources through audio and video interviews to obtain new information and multilateral communication with other scientific fields.[2]

[1] Hossein Ali Nozari, 1383 (2002), “Oral History, Experimental Applications, Reliability and Research Applications, Iranian Contemporary History Quarterly, issue no. 29, p. 352.

[2] Hassanabadi, Abolfazl, 1386 (2005), Oral history and Historiography in Historical Texts (based on the book of Tarikh-i Bayhaqi), the Month Book of History and Geography, pp. 8-16

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